My Ex-Life is a great title, a bit of a pun, and a good description of the story. College-application consultant David Hedges is a bit at sixes-and-sevens after his lover left him for a richer man and his landlady decides to sell. Julie Fiske’s life is also in disarray after her husband Henry left her for a younger woman. Now he is making demands, to sell the house and for custody of their daughter Mandy. Meanwhile, Mandy thinks her mom needs an intervention, so she lies and says David is helping her with her college application. The complication is David is Julie’s gay ex-husband.
David sees this an opportunity to get away from San Francisco for a while and flies to Boston to stay with her in a fledgling AirBnB in a twee oceanside exurb. He arrives and observes the crowded disarray and Julie’s distracted, pot haze and knows he is truly needed, something that makes him happy.
Meanwhile, Mandy, laboring under the burden of poor self-esteem and the angst of divorce is making bad decisions right and left. Julie is a bit of a ditz, someone who decides by not deciding, who puts off until next month what should be done today. David is desperately needed.
I enjoyed My Ex-Life very much, mainly for the snarky humor. There is a bit of Renata ex Machina to the ending, but that is okay. Realism is overrated sometimes. I probably am less sympathetic to Julie than some may feel because I loathe AirBnB. I would respect her more if she just changed her home to a bed and breakfast instead of evading taxes and regulations with the gig economy fraud. One of my happier moments in reading the book happened when Julie was exploring rental properties in the area and could not find anything affordable thanks to AirBnB taking up too much of the apartment and rental housing stock. That is our reality in Portland and in San Francisco–AirBnB driving rents up and increasing homelessness. At least Julie saw the justice of it.
I liked David a lot, a responsible man who is generous and caring. I also liked Mandy. I loved Amira, the neighbor who was so much more than she appeared. Most of all, I loved the sarcastic wit that Stephen McCauley brought to the story.